How to Adjust Pole Saw Chain Tension

The pole saw is a great tool for pruning tree branches in your garden.

But to get the best performance and safety, you need to keep the chain tension well-adjusted as part of its maintenance.

The pole saw uses a chainsaw attached to its end. So the concept is the same whether you use a pole saw or a chainsaw.

You can read more about some good pole saw options available for your garden needs.

Why it’s important to adjust the chain tension?

The pole saw has a chainsaw attached to one end. The bar and chain need to have the right amount of tension.

If the chain is too loose, the performance of the pole saw will suffer. And you risk injuring yourself as well.

Kickback is a situation that can occur when using a chainsaw. This happens when the tip of the chainsaw touches the branch.

The saw flings towards your body and can result in a serious injury. A loose chain increases the chances of such kickback happening.

The loose chain may result in the chain flying off the guide bar. This is a serious issue as it may end up hitting someone and causing serious injury.

The loose chain also causes slanted cuts. You’ll need to put force when trying to cut the branches. And end up damaging the pole chainsaw.

Having the bar and chain too tight also has it’s set of problems.

A tight chain will prevent the guide bar from moving efficiently and impact the performance.

It will increase the risk of heating up the chain and causing sparks that result in a fire hazard.

All such issues reduce the life of the bar, chain, and other parts of your pole saw. This causes a lot of stress on the guide bar nose and drive sprocket. And damages the clutch and bearings of the chainsaw.

A tight chain causes the chainsaw to consume a lot more oil. And if there’s no oil while pruning branches, it compounds the problem causing even more heating issues.

Difference between good and bad tension

You need to make sure the tension is just right. It should not be too tight nor too loose.

The best way to know this is to pull the chain from the guide bar and see how much the drive links separate.

They should separate just a little bit from the bar. But not so much that the drive links dislodge out of the bar rails.

Safety precautions before adjusting the chain tension

Make sure that the pole saw is turned off before you try to adjust the tension. Otherwise, you risk serious injury if the saw turns on.

It’s good to let the chain cool down before you attempt to adjust the chain tension. A hot chain tends to expand and it will not adjust correctly.

You should wear safety gloves to protect your hands from getting cuts while handling the chain.

It’s good if you can clean the guide bar with a putty knife. This helps remove the gunk in the groove where the chain sits. It helps you get the best tension adjustment.

How to adjust the chain tension

There are different manufacturers selling a variety of pole saws. And each of them may have a difference in the design.

Some pole saws might come with an auto tension adjustment system as well.

You should read the manual provided with your chainsaw to know the exact steps. However, the basics of adjusting chain tension are the same.

Find the tension adjustment screw

The common location for the tension adjustment screw is on the side. This could be visible or just under the side cover.

You may need to take the side cover off by removing some screws. Or there might be an easy release knob in some models.

Loosen the guide bar

You may need to loosen the chain tensioning pin that connects the guide bar to the chainsaw. This gives you better positioning to adjust the tension.

You may need to loosen a few nuts on the side panel to do this.

Till you’ve adjusted the tension and tightened the nuts back, keep holding the bar tip.

Turn the adjustment screw

To adjust the chainsaw chain tension, you’ll need to use a screwdriver. Many pole saws and chainsaws come with a screwdriver/wrench in the package.

Depending on your model, turning the tensioning screw clockwise will tighten the chain tension.

And turning the tensioning screw counterclockwise will loosen the chainsaw chain tension.

Keep turning the tensioning screw till you get the desired tension. You know this when the chain is not hanging down. It should sit into the guide bar.

Pull the chainsaw chain

To check the tension, you can pull the chain in the direction away from the chainsaw. It should move freely along the guide bar.

There should be no large gap between the drive links and the bar as you pull the chain. But it should be loose enough that you can pull the chain a little away from the bar.

You’ll know the proper chain tension by pulling the chain and testing it.

Just pull the chain at the underside of the guide bar till the links are away from the bar and then release.

They should fit right back into the bar without getting the chain loose.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much tension should be on a pole chainsaw chain?

A pole chainsaw should be tightened so that the drive links sit comfortably on the guide bar. But should be loose enough that you can pull the chain a little away from the bar.

Why does my pole chainsaw keep coming off?

The pole chainsaw chain may keep coming off because the tension is too loose. It may also come off if the chain is damaged.

Can a pole chainsaw chain be backward?

No. The chainsaw chain can only cut in the right direction. The chainsaw rotates in the clockwise direction. So the chain cutting edges should face away from the engine.

Why do pole chainsaw chains stretch?

The pole chainsaw chain may stretch if it becomes too hot. This could be due to insufficient chain oil in the reservoir. Or sufficient oil is not reaching the chain during cutting. If the chainsaw is new, the chain may stretch when used for the first few times.

Why won’t my chainsaw chain tighten?

You need to loosen the guide bar before you try to tighten the chainsaw. There are nuts on the side that hold the guide bar. And you need to use the wrench to loosen them. You will then be able to tighten the chainsaw chain with the tension adjustment screw.